Intracellular Impedance Measurements Reveal Non-ohmic Properties of the Extracellular Medium around Neurons

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Abstract

Determining the electrical properties of the extracellular space around neurons is important for understanding the genesis of extracellular potentials, as well as for localizing neuronal activity from extracellular recordings. However, the exact nature of these extracellular properties is still uncertain. Here, we introduce a method to measure the impedance of the tissue, one that preserves the intact cell-medium interface using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings in vivo and in vitro. We find that neural tissue has marked non-ohmic and frequency-filtering properties, which are not consistent with a resistive (ohmic) medium, as often assumed. The amplitude and phase profiles of the measured impedance are consistent with the contribution of ionic diffusion. We also show that the impact of such frequency-filtering properties is possibly important on the genesis of local field potentials, as well as on the cable properties of neurons. These results show non-ohmic properties of the extracellular medium around neurons, and suggest that source estimation methods, as well as the cable properties of neurons, which all assume ohmic extracellular medium, may need to be reevaluated.

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Gomes, J. M., Bédard, C., Valtcheva, S., Nelson, M., Khokhlova, V., Pouget, P., … Destexhe, A. (2016). Intracellular Impedance Measurements Reveal Non-ohmic Properties of the Extracellular Medium around Neurons. Biophysical Journal, 110(1), 234–246. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2015.11.019

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